Life

Jane Goodall always travels with a stuffed animal named Mr. H to remind her of the 'indomitable human spirit'

VIDEO5:0405:04
Jane Goodall on how she approaches her philanthropy

World-renowned conservationist Jane Goodall's work takes her around the world — and she always travels with a special companion to remind her of the "indomitable human spirit."

That companion is a stuffed monkey named "Mr. H," given to her by Gary Haun, a blind magician. Mr. H has been with Goodall for 28 years and has traveled to 64 countries.

Haun "thought he was giving me a stuffed chimpanzee, and I took his hand and made him hold the tail," Goodall said in a "Squawk Box " interview Friday from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Monkeys have tails, while chimps do not.

"He said, 'Never mind. Take him with you, and you know my spirit's with you.' So he symbolizes the indomitable human spirit," she said.

Goodall has taken that message with her in her travels, invoking Haun's name in speeches.

"Gary Haun went blind, decided to be a magician, was told it was impossible," she told CNBC. "If something goes wrong with you, he says, 'Don't give up.'"

In addition to being a magician, Haun climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and swam with great white sharks. He also wrote the book, "Diary of a Blind Magician. "

Goodall first went to what is now Tanzania in 1960 at the age of 26. It was her work in Gombe National Park that led to the groundbreaking discovery that chimpanzees experienced emotions that had been believed to be unique to humans.

Now 84, she still travels about 300 days a year to raise awareness of the plight of wildlife and their habitats, as well as poverty in local communities. She's the founder of The Jane Goodall Institute and is a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

This week, she was in Davos to launch the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation. Its purpose is to continue Goodall's work and values "in perpetuity to benefit future generations," according to the press release announcing the foundation.

Goodall told CNBC she realized in 1986 that chimpanzee numbers were dropping and that the people in the surrounding communities were "cripplingly poor."

The foundation is essentially an endowment for the 34 Jane Goodall Institute locations around the world and the youth programs she has in 80 countries.

"All of these groups are choosing projects — they choose them — to make the world a better place for people, animals [and the] environment," Goodall said.

She's looking to raise $250 million for the new foundation.

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